At a young age, we learn to regulate our emotions from our parents and guardians. Society pressures us to shut down emotions with phrases like “Big girls don’t cry“ or “Man up”. This mentality is outdated and actually harmful. Emotions are natural, meaning everyone has them. You have every right to feel them, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, socio-economic status, race, political affiliation, or religion. You have every right to feel them, regardless of what family, friends, significant others, or society may say.

Your feelings are okay. The way you are feeling right now doesn’t make you weak. It doesn’t make you a bad person. It doesn’t mean you are incompetent. It doesn’t mean you are a failure. It doesn’t mean you are being punished. It doesn’t mean you need to feel guilty.

The more you hide your feelings, the more they show. The more you deny your feelings, the more they grow. - Unknown

Don’t Battle Yourself Over Your Emotions

“Why can’t I get over this, or that?” “What’s wrong with me?” These thoughts might be running through your head as you push yourself to get better, to get rid of those negative feelings. But constantly putting yourself down for feeling “bad” will only push you down further.

No matter how hard we might try to avoid emotional pain, we cannot. Sadness, shame, anger, fear, loneliness, fear, grief, despair, confusion, all these emotions and more are a natural part of being human. No one wants to feel negatively, but it’s a natural part of life. If you continue to beat yourself up over feeling sad or lonely, if you hide from the world when you make a mistake, if you obsess over how you could have done something differently, if you feel guilty when you feel happy, you are trying to avoid a part of yourself that makes you human.

As humans, when we react negatively to our already negative emotions, we prolong those feelings. What could be a brief or passing sadness can transform into persistent grief. A small irritation can transform into a major anger-fueled storm.

The more you fight against emotional pain, the more those difficult emotions break down your mind, body, and spirit. When you fight what you are feeling, instead of feeling okay with it, you get stuck in a loop of evergrowing emotion.

Own Your Feelings to Help Overcome Them

If the more you fight your emotions make your emotions grow and overwhelm you, then accepting your feelings will do the opposite. It may seem impossible, or at the very least very difficult, to own your feelings. What does that even mean? How can that make this negative feeling go away? Owning your feelings means acknowledging how you feel.

Acknowledge that whatever emotion you are feeling is 100% okay to feel. It’s okay to feel the way you feel. It’s okay to feel sad. It’s okay to feel angry. It’s okay to feel lonely. It’s okay to feel fear. It’s okay to feel confused. It’s okay to feel unhappy. It’s okay to feel joy and happiness too! Whatever you are feeling right now is okay to feel.

If you need more science-based evidence that your feelings are okay, Harvard Health analyzed a study on the psychological health of people who accept, rather than negatively judge, their emotions. The study found that people who routinely accept their emotional state were more likely to report better mental health 6 months later. They also were less likely to respond to negative stressors. Meaning on a daily basis, they were feeling “bad” less.

Accepting that your feeling is yours and it’s okay to feel that way is one of the first steps towards feeling better. Ownership of your feelings can help you cope with them. Try some of these tips from Mental Health America or use some of the tips from our blog. Embrace your feelings: They are what make you, YOU.